Amnesty launches urgent campaign on racism in the UK amid rise in reported hate crime
Amnesty to conduct research into racism in the UK
‘Some people now feel licensed to express racist views in a way we haven’t seen for decades’ – Kate Allen
Amnesty International today announced a new emergency campaign to combat racism and xenophobia in the UK, prompted by reports of a rise in racial abuse in the wake of the EU referendum.
The announcement comes amid news that reports to police of online hate crimes rose over the weekend since Thursday’s referendum. The UN has also raised concern over the reported rise.
Amnesty will conduct research into the rise in racism and xenophobia across the UK. The new research will examine reports of abuse and their causes, including the public and political discourse around both the EU referendum and the London mayoral election.
Amnesty has issued an urgent call on all local councils to condemn racism in all its forms, and to commit to ensuring that all local bodies and programmes have the support and resources needed to fight and prevent racism and xenophobia. Amnesty aims to get every local council to sign up to the commitment. (www.amnesty.org.uk/againsthate)
Meanwhile Amnesty is encouraging people to show their solidarity with people experiencing abuse, using the #AgainstHate hashtag.
Kate Allen, Amnesty’s UK Director, said:
“Some people now feel licensed to express racist views in a way we haven’t seen for decades.
“The referendum campaign was marked by divisive, xenophobic rhetoric as well as a failure from political leaders to condemn it. We are now reaping the referendum rhetoric whirlwind.
“Amnesty is deeply concerned at reports of verbal abuse, attacks on buildings, racist slogans on t-shirts, calls for people to leave the country and other acts of intimidation and hate.
“People across the UK have suddenly found themselves in a country where they’re unsure of their future, their family’s future and the security of their jobs and homes. They need to be urgently reassured that they can feel safe, protected and welcome here.
“We’re simply not prepared to stand by and let hate become the norm in Britain.”
A member of Amnesty’s Belfast group was verbally racially abused on Saturday night by a man who asked him if he was from the European Union before telling him to “get the fuck out of our country”.
Mohammed Samaana, a nurse in a Belfast hospital, was verbally attacked in a city-centre Belfast bar. He describes the incident:
“On Saturday night, a man I have never met before said to me: “You from the EU? Fuck off back to your country. Get the fuck out of our country.”
“At first I thought he was joking, but then he continued the abuse and started shaking his fists at me. At that point I decided it was better to leave rather than have the incident escalate.
“What makes me really sad is that the three men and three women who were with him didn’t say a word, condoning his racism by their silence. I think everyone now needs to speak out and challenge racism wherever and whenever we see it.”
Mr Samaana is a dual Palestinian-UK citizen who has lived in Northern Ireland for fifteen years and works as a nurse in a Belfast hospital.
Today the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein issued a statement on xenophobic attacks in the United Kingdom:
“I am deeply concerned at reports of attacks and abuses targeting minority communities and foreign citizens in the United Kingdom over the last few days. Racism and xenophobia are completely, totally and utterly unacceptable in any circumstances. I urge the U.K. authorities to act to stop these xenophobic attacks and to ensure that all those suspected of racist and anti-foreigner attacks and abuses are prosecuted.”